Seattle Obstetrical Malpractice Lawyers
Medical professionals are held to a very high standard. They are expected to perform all medical procedures with the “accepted standard of care.” When an obstetrician makes a serious error, an infant or mother can be permanently injured, or die. In these cases, it is extremely important that an obstetrics malpractice case is filed. Not only does it allow for some degree of justice with the recovery of financial compensation, but serves to help others avoid a similar tragedy.
A Washington obstetrics malpractice case can be filed when the attending obstetrician has made a serious error, and the child or mother was injured or dies - and these consequences could have been avoided, had the correct actions been taken during pregnancy or during the birthing process. Medical science has advanced to the point in which children survive many medically risky situations with great success. In order for childbirth to be successful and result in a healthy child, there are countless details that must be managed with extreme care and attention.
An obstetrician is considered the "Captain of the ship" for monitoring labor and delivery. This means the labor and delivery nurses look to the OB doctor for leadership, guidance, and decision making. Obstetrics nursing is a field that requires significant assessment, reporting and knowledge. Communication between labor and delivery nurses and the obstetricians is key in solving problems for a safe delivery of a newborn.
If you suspect that your child’s injury or death was the result of doctor error, it is important that you seek legal advice at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. immediately.
Some pregnancies and births are high risk, and even with the best professional care, can result in problems for mother or infant. In other cases, however, had the obstetrician performed procedures correctly, serious injury or death could have been avoided. Some of the most common types of birth injuries include:
When the infants network of nerves in the neck of the infant are damaged in the birth process, there are various outcomes. Some babies completely recover, as the nerves heal, while other children may never have the ability to use an arm and hand, due to nerve damage.
An infant that is in distress, lacking oxygen, is a high risk of brain damage. As the child grows, it becomes evident that there are problems with motion. Careful and ongoing monitoring of the baby’s condition is absolutely essential in childbirth. If the medical team attending birth did not apply the accepted standard of care, and a child has cerebral palsy, legal action should be filed against any and all liable parties.
Infants who do not have enough oxygen reaching the brain during the birth process may suffer permanent brain damage, and face a future with radically reduced cognitive abilities, such as mental retardation. In cases in which the restricted oxygen was the result of a medical error, a malpractice claim should be filed against the liable parties. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is a common finding in birth trauma that causes brain damages. Cold-capping of the infant’s head by a neonatologist in the N.I.C.U. (neonatal intensive care unit) is becoming the standard to minimize the damage to a newborn’s brain.
Another type of brachial plexus injury is called Erb’s palsy – paralysis of the arm. The damage to the nerves at the neck affects the nerve signals to the arm and hand. In some cases, the infant recovers fully or partially, while in other cases, the injury and impairment is irreversible.
The National Institute of Health issued a report on the most common obstetric errors:
- A delay in transporting a patient to the operating room when bleeding, putting the mother at risk of death from hemorrhage.
- Lack of familiarity with the administration of prostaglandin (a fatty acid that promotes uterine contraction) to reverse “uterine atony,” or when the uterus fails, increasing the risk of acute hemorrhage.
- Poor cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques. About 10% of newborns require some assistance to breathe, with about 1% requiring resuscitation. There are only 60 seconds in which to perform the resuscitation techniques, which include clearing the airway, stimulating the child, ventilation, chest compression, and the administration of epinephrine. This minute is called “the golden minute” and the obstetrician must be capable of evaluating the condition of the infant quickly and accurately.
- Inadequate documentation of shoulder dystocia (obstructed labor in which the shoulder cannot pass through the birth canal without manipulation), a condition reported in about one in every thousand births. About 46% of shoulder dystocia cases are reported as being the result of substandard care. Shoulder dystocia can lead to a brachial plexus injury, which leave a child with permanent physical impairments, or stillbirth.
- Delayed administration of blood to reverse coagulopathy. When the mother’s blood has an impaired ability to clot, the result can be either prolonged or excessive bleeding, a complication in some births.
- Inappropriately avoiding an episiotomy for shoulder dystocia and breech births. When a baby is not moving as it should through the birth channel, the obstetrician must make very fast, accurate decisions. In many cases, an episiotomy would be the accepted standard, and if not performed, the baby could be injured, possibly permanently.
At Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., we have four decades of experience in personal injury law, and have made it our responsibility to professionally represent parents who have had a child injured at birth as a result of medical error. There are few situations more devastating than a child who is living with impairments that could have been avoided if the correct medical actions had been taken during childbirth. Medical professionals who fail to apply the accepted standard of care must be held accountable for the damage done. Call our Seattle medical malpractice attorneys today for help, at (888) 228-3860, or contact us through our online form.
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